Friday, December 19, 2014

Burpees: A Love-Hate Relationship

One thing I can predict every time a client looks at his workout, is a low groan when he sees "Burpees" listed in the circuit. "Oh lawd, not BURPEES!"

If you workout, more than likely you are familiar with a Burpee, especially if you do any form of circuit training and or do plyometric exercises. For those of you not familiar with a burpee, it's  a full-body explosive movement that usually contains the following 6 movements.
  • Step 1: Squat down and place both hands on the floor (use dumbbells as hand grips if desired).
  • Step 2: Jump both feel back fully extending both legs so that your body is in a plank position.
  • Step 3. Lower your body into a pushup position
  • Step 4. Raise your body back into the plank position.
  • Step 5. Jump both feet back into the squat position.
  • Royal H. Burpee
  • Step 6. Explosively jump up into the air with your arms above your head.
You can do it with or without the pushup, add a dumbbell overhead press, do it with your hands on a medball, the variations are endless. I often have my clients use an inverted BOSU as a hand grip (with or without adding the pushup) and then instead of jumping, I have them press the BOSU above their head after returning to a stand.

I'm often asked, "Where did this form or torture come from?" Sorry to say, not from hell. LOL! It actually was developed by a man named Royal Burpee. He developed it as a part of an exercise test in the late 1930's. It was used by the military to test overall agility, coordination, and fitness. His version however, was a milder version. It was a 4-point movement without the pushup and vertical jump. His version was repeated only 4 times as a part of his testing. During the test he took several different heart-rate
measures and used them in a calculation he created that assessed the heart's efficiency at pumping blood which he used to measure the person's overall health.
Royal Burpee's Original 4-point Movement
Mr. Burpee actually warned against doing his version aggressively. Jump ahead about 80 years and boy has the burpee blossomed. Turns out it actually is a great full-body movement which can also incorporate explosive plyometric movement. Form is essential and like any exercise, if done with poor form, then injury can occur. So, be careful not to get too carried away with excessive repetitions as the cost of good technique. Burpees are a great exercise to do when you want a good workout, but have no equipment.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

2014 A Year to Celebrate at RunnerDude's Fitness

2014 has been an awesome year for RunnerDude's Fitness. We've grown over the year with our biggest fall race training group ever (70+ runners)! Each and every runner is an amazing person with an amazing story to tell. This video tries to capture just a tad of their spirit which makes RunnerDude's Fitness what it is...a home for runners. I can't wait to see what 2015 has in store.

RunnerDude's Fitness Celebrates 2014 from Thad McLaurin on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Training Gear: To Each His Own

I'm asked frequently, "What running shoes do you wear?" What running shorts do you wear?" "What sports drink do you use?" "What fuel do you use on the run?" "What do you eat before a long run?" "What do you eat after a long run?" I always preface my response with, "Well, what works for me is..."

Running is a very specialized sport and that goes for the gear and fueling too. What works for one runner may or may not work for another. The trick is to read up on various options, talk to your running buddies and trainer, and then try things out for yourself. The training period for a marathon is not just for training the muscular and aerobic systems. It's also a time to test out fueling and hydration options, clothing, shoes, GPS watches, etc. Use the 3-4 months preparing for the marathon to see what works for you. But start early in the training, don't wait until the last few weeks.

Also, keep in mind your race date. A good portion of training for a fall marathon takes place in the heat of summer. So, most of your training runs may be in shorts and a singlet. But if your race is late fall and in a chilly location, you may end up racing in tights and a couple of top layers. So, be sure to have your race day attire options figured out. Go worst case scenario. Better to be ready than caught off guard. Be sure to test out all clothing too. Nothing worse than discovering that your bad weather clothing option is the king of chafing.

I'm always amazed when  I get calls from someone who isn't a client and they're asking about hydration and/or fueling and it's the week before the race. Anything they use or try to use that they haven't used during training is a gamble. My #1 Race Day Rule is never wear, eat, or drink anything on race day that you haven't used during your training.

Below are my favorites from my current training for the upcoming Philadelphia marathon. Remember these items work great for me. You may try something below and it not work at all for you. That's fine. It's all about finding what works best for you.

I've run in a lot of different shoes and have several brands that I like and that work for me. During my Philly training, I've run in the Saucony Mirage 4 for my shorter runs and speed workouts. I can wear the Mirages up to about 10 miles and then my feet really hurt. I need more cushion on longer runs. Recently I discovered Altra's Paradigm and they're like heaven on my feet. I've run five 20-milers in my training for Philly and my feet have not hurt at all on these long runs when wearing the Paradigms. All of the Altra shoes have zero drop. That means they are completely flat. There is no heel-to-toe drop. This is great for the balls of my feet. It's the fore foot that really hurts on the longer runs when wearing a shoe that has any kind of incline at the heel. The Paradigm is Altra's first offering in the maximalist category. Maximalist shoes have a thicker sole providing more cushion while still keeping very little heel-to-toe drop. I tried Hoka's, another brand of maximalist shoes, but they have about a 3 or 4mm heel-to-toe drop and they just didn't work as well for me. The Altra Paradigm is my new favorite running shoe.

My feet aren't too picky when it comes to socks. I do have a few requirements, however. First, I like a snug fit. Close fitting socks tend to cause less chafing and blisters. Second, no cotton. I like 100% technical fabric. This aids in the snug fit as well as moisture management. Third, no-show or low cut. I don't like socks that come past the ankle. Just my preference. I've run in many different brands of running sock from Champion, to SmartWool, to WrightSock, to Balega. They all work well. One sock I keep coming back to over and over is Feetures High Performance Light Cushion No Show Tab Sock. They have a great fit and work well for me.

Running Shorts:
My #1 favorite training short is made by Lululemon. You may not be familiar with this brand. They are fairly new to the running clothing arena. Lululemon is known more for their yoga clothing. I discovered Lululemon running shorts back in 2010 when running the Marine Corps Marathon with a buddy. He had a pair. They looked great on him and he raved about how good they felt. They are a bit pricey, running about $65 a pair, but pairs I bought after that race in 2010 still wear like the day I bought them. They hold up well to run after run and wash after wash.  For my training runs, I like to wear Lululemon's Surge short (1). It comes in a 5" and 7" inseam. For race day, I really like a race short that Lululemon use to make (2). I can't seem to find in on their website any longer, which is a shame. It's a great short. I recently discovered a racing short made by North Face called the Better Than Naked Split Short (3). This is a great racing short. It's short, but not too short. It's split, but not too split. It has a zippered back pocket as well as storage pockets on both sides of the zippered pocket that are perfect for storing GU packs.

GPS Watch:
I've used many different GPS watches over the years.  I've used two different TIMEX GPS watches, two different Garmen GPS watches, and two different Soleus GPS watches. Each had aspects I really liked and each had things I disliked. For my Philly training, I decided to try out the TomTom Runner GPS watch. I love this watch. It was easy to use right out of the box. It has a large customizable display. One of the best features is that it gets a GPS signal quicker than any GPS watch I've ever used. Literally just a few seconds after pressing the GPS button, I get a signal. As a coach, that's awesome. Another cool feature is that the display pops out of the watch band so you can easily slip it into the charging dock. It keeps its charge well too. No worries about it going dead in the middle of a long run. It also easily syncs up to Strava which is the app I use to keep track of my mileage, routes, running shoe miles and engage in friendly running competitions with myself and other Strava members.

I wear glasses. Used to wear contacts, but started having issues with them. I've gotten used to wearing glasses on the run. When it's light out I prefer to run in prescription sunglasses. Biggest problem with glasses is constant slipping on the nose. Eye Care Associates asked me to test out a pair of Oakley Jacket 2.0 frames. These frames are great. They allow for curved lenses so the frame wrap around your face providing more coverage of your eyes protecting them from the sun. The wrap design also keeps them from slipping on the nose. I tried an amber colored lens which I've never worn before. Usually I go with black or gray. The amber is great if your going for a run at dawn just before the sun comes up or at dusk when the sun is going down. Nothing worse than finishing a run as the sun goes down and you have on sunglasses and suddenly you can no longer see. The amber lenses allow for more visibility as it gets darker. (Note: If you eyes are very light sensitive, the amber choice may not work as well for you.) Don't wear prescription eyeglasses? No problem. You can have non prescription lenses put in the Oakley frames.

Chafing Protection:
I've never really had chafing issues, but for some reason in this training I did. I lost 23 lbs
during my training, so you think that would decrease chafing issues, but not the case. Anywho.... Body Glide and Body Glide Skin Glide became my friends. The original Body Glide is applied much like deodorant onto whatever area needs protecting. The original formula is thicker and provides great coverage. The Skin Glide is best described as a "dry lotion." What you squeeze out looks similar to lotion, but it quickly dries to a powdery feel after application. The Skin Glide can be a bit messy on clothing if you're not careful. Be sure to wipe your hands after application. If not, anything you touch will have white powdery smudges on it. Besides those few annoyances, the Skin Glide works well on shorter runs.

Night Before Long Run Fueling:
I'm a big multi-grain pasta and brown rice lover. Most of my night-before long run meals include either pasta or rice, chicken, and veggies. Below are some of the various combinations I've enjoyed.
1. Stir fried rice, veggies, and chicken over brown rice with whole grain bread
2. Chicken Primavera: whole wheat pasta, chick peas, broccoli, and cauliflower sauteed in olive oil
3. Mixed Greens topped with grilled chicken breast, dried cranberries, walnuts, broccoli, sprouts, and strawberry walnut dressing
4. White chicken chili. Contains navy beans (instead of kidney), white and yellow corn, Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix, and traditional chili spices.
5. Potato and carrot soup
6. Brown rice topped with black beans, grilled chicken, yellow corn, Mexican spices and low fat Mexican blend cheese

Pre-Long Run Breakfast Fueling:
I'm pretty consistent with the breakfast meal that I eat right before a long run. Usually I'll have a
toasted whole wheat English muffin topped with peanut butter and some type of preserve such as orange marmalade. Sometimes I'll put banana slices and honey on top of the peanut butter. Occasionally I'll have whole wheat pancakes. I eat my pre-long run breakfast about an hour to 1.5hrs prior to the run.

Hydration and Fueling Before and During the Long Run:
About an hour to 1.5hrs before the run, I'll drink one can of Earth Fare 100% Coconut Water.
Coconut water is Mother Nature's Sports Drink. It naturally contains sodium, potassium, and carbs...what you'd find in a sports drink like Gatorade. Coconut water, however has about 3x the potassium and a little less carbs. I use to deal with calf cramps on long runs, particularly on hot summer runs. I sweat a lot. Staying hydrated and keeping my electrolyte stores topped off is big for me. Since using 100% coconut water, I 've not had cramping or hydration issues.
As for fuel during the run, my go-to gel is Chocolate Outrageous by GU. I usually take one at mile 6, 12, and 18. Because the coconut water doesn't have quite a much carbs as Gatorade, I'm able to wash the GU down with the coconut water that I carry in my handheld bottle. I start my run with the handheld filled with coconut water and as I sip on it, I'll refill it with water. My long run routes take me by some water fountains. On race day I'll grab some water cups (as needed) and refill my bottle on the run. My favorite handheld water bottle is the one shown here by Ultimate Direction. It has a pouch perfect for storing gels and the unique nipple like spout allows you to suck the water out keeping spills from happening. It also cuts down on the amount of air being swallowed.

Post Run Refueling:
1% chocolate milk is my go-to post long run refuel option. I try to get this in within 15-30 minutes of completing the run. Chocolate milk has the perfect 4:1 carbs to protein ratio needed to optimize the rebuilding process after a long run. Horizon makes a juice box size that doesn't need to be refrigerated and is really convenient to throw in your car and have ready after a long run. If I have access, I like to jazz it up by putting the milk in a blender and adding a banana and some extra protein power. This makes a great smoothie.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Controlling the Holiday Bulge

The holidays are a time to enjoy friends, family, and good food. Problem is many of us attend so
many holiday functions that before you know it, you're entering the New Year with new pounds.  The Calorie Control Council has estimated that the average American could consume as much as 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. Just Thanksgiving Dinner alone could pack 3,242 calories for some.

I know what you're thinking, "I wait all year to enjoy those homemade seasonal goodies." You don't have to do without. BUT, you do have to practice moderation and accountability. Eat your favorite foods, but eat small to moderate portions. If you do indulge a little more, then account for it. Work it off with additional exercise.

Here are a few tips that also might help fight the Holiday Bulge:
  • Begin the day with a run, brisk walk, or hit the gym for a circuit workout. Getting your metabolism ramped up early will get your engines fired for the day.
  • Try to schedule your holiday meal at lunch instead of dinner. This way you'll be able to have time after lunch to get in a walk or a workout. Also, the digestion process pretty much stops when you sleep, so if you go to bed on a full stomach all that food is just going to sit there.
  • Bargain with yourself. If you really want a huge piece of pecan pie, determine what other goodie you can do without. "I'll skip the mashed potatoes and gravy, so I can have that pie!"
  • Be sure to eat breakfast. Many will not eat all day thinking they'll be able to eat more at dinner? Well, that basically is true, but if you haven't eaten all day, then you'll be more likely to overeat at dinner time. So instead of saving those 2000 calories till the end of the day, you end up packing in 3500 in one meal because you're so hungry. It's kind of like the old saying, "Don't go grocery shopping on an empty stomach." Don't come to Thanksgiving Dinner hungry either.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Don't Believe Everything You Read

You know the old phrase, "I read it, so it must be true." We all know that's usually not the case, particularly in the age of the Internet when anybody and everybody can print/say whatever they'd like with very little proof.

I've been amazed at some of the exercise and nutrition headlines I've read lately. The information in these articles has been really good, solid info, but the headlines which are meant to grab your attention have been very misleading. The problem with sensationalized attention-grabbing headlines is that often (in our busy lives) readers don't get much past the headline. So, they walk away with incorrect information.

One example was an Outside Magazine article I saw posted on Facebook several months ago regarding chocolate milk as a post-run refueling option. The Facebook headline read, "Screw Chocolate Milk." So, probably your first reaction to the headline (like mine) is, "Okay, what's wrong with chocolate milk?" right? Let's say you get past the headline and begin to read the'll find this:

Three years ago, it seemed like every fitness rag was hyping chocolate milk as the optimal recovery drink. It’s been in the fridge all along! We didn’t even know! The drink’s 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein, experts said, best promotes muscle repair and rebuilds energy stores after a workout. However, for a large chunk of endurance athletes including 56-plus percent of road racing runners, says Stanford researcher and founder of Osmo Nutrition Stacy Sims, it may not be true.

Research shows that only about 50% of readers read past 150 words of an article. So, about half of the readers left this article thinking our beloved post-run chocolate milk is somehow bad. I can hear the rumors spreading like wildfire. "Did you know chocolate milk is bad for you?" Did you know you shouldn't drink chocolate milk after a run?"

Well, if you read a little further into the article, you discover that chocolate milk isn't bad at all. What the article is actually saying is that women's bodies are different physiologically than men. They actually need more protein post-workout than the recommended 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. So, it's not chocolate milk. It's any 4:1 combination of carb/protein that a female runner is ingesting may not be enough. So, ladies, this is important to know. Drink your chocolate milk, but get some extra protein in along with it. Make a smoothie and add a dollop of peanut butter, eat some walnuts with your milk, add some protein powder. Problem solved. Not very sensational, huh?

Funny thing... in going back and trying to find the article, I had a hard time. Why? Well it was no longer using the header, "Screw Chocolate Milk." I'm thinking they received some flack. Go figure.

Anywho...why am I ranting on about sensationalized headlines? Because they misinform. Not only are there the ones like "Screw Chocolate Milk." that give a negative vibe to a perfectly good post run snack, there are ones that promote "healthy" foods which in fact are not. It's a double-edge sword.

Eating healthy is work. No wonder so many Americans opt not to. You have to do your homework when eating healthy and when you're trying hard to support your nutritional needs when marathon training.

The October 2014 issue of the Nutrition Action Health Letter contains a great feature article titled "Hijacked: How the Food Industry Converts Diet Advice into Profits." It's a great read and I definitely got past the first 150 words.

When the science world makes a discovery or publishes its latest healthy findings on nutrition, the food industry jumps on the good news trying to promote and sell its products. That in itself is not bad. Absolutely nothing wrong in touting the health benefits of your product. Problems pop up when companies begin altering their foods to "fit" the new health claims.

I'm sure you've noticed that "high fiber" or "rich in fiber" is all the buzz. From liquid meal drinks, to ice cream, to breads, to brownies you'll see these phrases plastered all over the packaging. Research has shown that fiber does all sorts of great things. For one thing, it helps you feel fuller, so you tend not to eat as much. It also helps prevent constipation, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, not to mention lowering the risk of heart disease.  So, if the Double Chocolate Fiber One cookies claim to have 5g of fiber and a large orange has only 4.4, well, it goes without saying, many will choose the cookie. Many of the commercials touting high fiber foods use the pitch that you're getting the fiber you need without sacrificing flavor. Others go on to promote how their fiber-rich foods will make you feel full which will keep you more satisfied and not each as much.

Problem? Well, the fiber in many of these food products is not the same fiber found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods. It's processed fiber...powders. Did you know that there are companies which create these powders to sell to other food companies to add to their foods? Milne Fruit Products creates fruit and vegetable powders that other companies add to their breakfast cereals, fruit pieces, bakery good, snack chips, smoothies, juices and other foods.

If you read the food labels of these "fiber-rich" foods, you'll more than likely find items such as inulin, oligofructose, soluble corn fiber, resistant wheat starch, or polydextrose. These are the processed fibers being added to the foods being touted as "fiber-rich." The Fiber One cookies contain soluble corn fiber and sugarcane fiber in its ingredients list.

Researchers have done studies on these foods and naturally high fiber foods and have discovered that eating foods naturally high in fiber such as oatmeal and fruit does help fill you up, but eating foods with added processed fiber does not. As the author of the Nutrition Action article states, "The bottom line: added processed fibers don't turn cookies, brownies, bars and shakes into beans, bran, berries, and broccoli. But they do turn little white powders into bigger profits."

It's not just solid foods that can be misleading. Blue Diamond's Vanilla Almond Breeze Milk has "All Natural" on the label. To me, when I read that, I envision some person squeezing the daylights out of poor little almonds to fill up each carton. Guess what. One cup of almond milk contains about 4 almonds. The rest is filtered water and (if you're not getting the unsweetened version) sugar. One cup of Blue Diamond Vanilla Almond Milk has 80 calories, 2.5g of fat. The same as 1% cow's milk. The almond milk, however, contains only 1g of protein vs. 8g in 1% milk. The almond milk has 13g sugar and 1% milk has 12g. The almond milk has 150mg of sodium and 180mg of potassium. 1% milk has only 130mg of sodium and a whopping 400mg of potassium. Now if you are allergic to cow's milk, then almond milk is a great alternative. My point is, almond milk is often touted as a healthier alternative to dairy milk. Not really the case.

Moral to the story? Read beyond the headlines and educate yourself on nutrition labels. Food companies are out to make a buck. You're out to make a healthy life.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

External Focus Best for Marathoners

If cognitive strategies during a marathon won't exactly make or break your race, they are still among
the most important weapons you have in your arsenal against fatigue. Below are the  four mental strategies to be the most common:
  • Internal association: This focuses on how the body feels while running.
  • Internal dissociation: This is essentially distraction: examples include playing songs over and over in your head and solving mental puzzles;
  • External association: This focuses outwardly, on factors important to the race: passing or being passed by other runners, looking out for fluid stations and calculating split times;
  • External dissociation: This, too, focuses outwardly-but on events unimportant to the race: enjoyment of the scenery, attention to throngs of cheering spectators or glimpses of outrageously costumed runners passing by.

Research has shown that the greatest percentage of those who hit the Wall said they had relied primarily on internal dissociation. It seems all-out distraction may make it difficult for you to judge your pace and to know other vital information, such as when you're dehydrated. It's therefore not a good idea to avoid monitoring your body altogether.

Internal association, while the most prevalent of the four strategies, magnified discomfort among the runners, who reported the Wall appearing much earlier and lasting longer than others.

Interestingly, external association seems not to lead runners into the trap of hitting the Wall, as you might expect from the results of internal dissociation. The researchers speculate that the observance, however unrelated to racing strategy, of passing by other runners and spectators may provide enough of the focus needed to keep the correct pace, effectively anticipate hills and so forth.

Similarly, runners using external dissociation didn't experience the Wall as often or as intensely as the internally-focused groups.

So, what's best practice for marathon racers? Check in on your body periodically-if briefly-and focus most of your attention externally: on both factors important to the marathon as well as on the enjoyable atmosphere. The latter may be unrelated to performance in any direct sense, but it nevertheless has the power to surround and energize you as you strive to keep your head up, your confidence high and your feet moving toward that finish line.

(Marathon & Beyond, 2003, Vol. 7, No. 5, pp. 61-72; BJSM, 1998, Vol. 32, No.3, pp. 229-234) © American Running Association, Running & FitNews 2004, Vol. 22, No. 1, p.5)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Strategies for Mentally Attacking a Half Marathon

Running a half marathon tests your mental strength as much as it does your physical fitness. Each part of the half marathon has different mental battles. Here are some tips on how to win the challenges throughout the half marathon and run a successful race.

First 5 Miles: 
Start out slow. When you start your half marathon, you'll feel strong and confident, but you have to tell yourself to hold back. Running your first half slower than the second half (called a negative split) is the key to running a smart and enjoyable half marathon. Take it slow. Your body will thank you during the later miles.
Run your own half marathon. Don't be worried if you see a lot of people passing you. Remember the tortoise and the hare? They may be starting out way too fast, so you'll catch them later—at your own pace. Going out too fast is one of the most common racing mistakes.
Here are some ways that you can avoid going out too fast: 
  • Deliberately run your first mile slower than you plan to run the final one. It's tough to do, since 
  • you'll most likely feel really strong in the beginning. But keep in mind that for every second you 
  • go out too fast in the first half of your race, you could lose as much as double that amount of 
  • time in the second half of your race. 
  • Try to make sure you're in the correct starting position. Don't start yourself with faster runners 
  • because you'll most likely try to keep up with them. 
  • Start your race at a comfortable pace and make sure you check your watch at the first mile 
  • marker. If you're ahead of your anticipated pace, slow down. It's not too late to make pace 
  • corrections after just one mile. 
  • Keep telling yourself that lots of other runners are going to pass you in the first mile. But you'll 
  • be passing a lot of those same runners later in the race. 
  • Practice starting out slow during training runs. When you do your long run each week, try to 
  • hold back during the first few miles, so you get used to the discipline of not going out too fast. 

Don't get too emotional. Try to stay as calm as possible for the first 5 miles. You want to conserve your mental energy for the rest of the half marathon.

Miles 6-10:
Break up the half marathon. Start breaking up the race into smaller segments. It will make the distance feel more manageable. At mile 10, for example, think, "It's just a 5K to go." Stay mentally tough. Your mental toughness will really start to be tested during these miles.
Don't give into periods of self-doubt and discomfort. Remember all those miles you ran and the training you did, and have faith in it. Think about how hard you have worked and how rewarding it will be to complete your half marathon.
Beat boredom. Do whatever it takes to keep your mind occupied: Sing songs, play mental games, count people, talk to other runners.
  • Give yourself mini-goals: If you're really struggling, don't focus on how much farther you have 
  • to go. Just worry about getting to the next mile marker, the next water stop, or another 
  • landmark. Keep giving yourself small goals, so you don't feel overwhelmed by thinking about 
  • how far it is to the finish line.
  • Go fishing: Focus on someone in front of you who you think you can catch. Imagine you're 
  • casting out a fishing line and hooking that person. Then imagine yourself reeling that person in, 
  • as you keep getting closer and closer to him.
  • Find a mantra: Picking a short phase, such as "One step at a time," that you play over and over 
  • in your head while running can help you stay focused and centered. It can be your inner 
  • motivation when you need it most. 
  • Talk to yourself: Who cares if the person running next to you thinks you're crazy? Sometimes 
  • giving yourself a little pep talk and saying things such, "I can do this!" or "I'm staying strong" can 
  • help you through a rough patch.
  • Distract yourself: Try to take attention away from how you're feeling by focusing on 
  • everything outside your body. I always like to look at the spectators' faces and see them smiling 
  • and cheering. It helps me take my mind away from any discomfort I'm experiencing.
Miles 11-13.1: 
Think outside the body. You may feel a little discomfort during these miles. You'll certainly feel tired. Let your mind take over from your body and try to focus on the outside—the spectators, the signs, the other runners, the scenery.
Talk to yourself. At this point in the race, you need to dig down deep for extra strength. Use your running mantras. Remind yourself what you've sacrificed to get to this point. Remember how you've worked through fatigue during your training runs and how you can do it again. Set small milestones. Continue to break up the course, mile by mile. Start counting down the miles and the minutes.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Find Your Marathon Moxie

If you're training for a fall marathon then many of you are now about halfway or a little over half-way into

your training. Many of you are feeling some doubts about your training. Yep, you are not alone.

Runners are a warm, caring, sharing group, but often when we begin to feel doubt about our abilities, we hold this info within. So, know you are not alone. Others are feeling the same doubts and lack of confidence.

Also know, this is common. We are often our own worst enemies. Training is tough. It's a huge time commitment. It's a lot of wear and tear on your body and mind. About half-way through your training, is the toughest part of your training. You're into the longer runs. The speed work is longer/harder. You're body is still acclimating to the demands. You're feeling tired, worn out, fatigued. When this happens, your brain goes into preservation made letting doubt creep in. Are you good enough? Why are you making your paces? You suck!

It's hard to fathom when in this pit of self-loathing, but things are about to get better. You will pull out of this pit. Does this mean charge on and run yourself into the ground? NO!! Listen to your body. If you need a rest day. TAKE IT! Rest is a good thing. If you're fatigued mentally and/or physically a rest day will do you much more good than that speed workout. But don't confuse taking a rest day for buying into thinking you're not good enough.

Evaluate why you are fatigued. Are you doing other things that are draining you? Can you get rid of those? Should you really have done that 2hr crossfit session the day before your progression run? Are you properly fueled? Hydrated? Have you been getting enough sleep? Was it a bad day at work? Was the temperature 90 and the dew point 75? All these are things that we may or may not have control over but have effects on your training. Also remember that a plan is just a prediction, a guide, a schedule to guide you and help you reach your ultimate goal. It's not law cut into stone.

If you're having doubts, I want you to do some reflection. Sometimes writing down and documenting all that you've done during your training can visually confirm all your hard work and the commitment you've exuded over the past several months. This doesn't have to be a long and tedious task, just use a brainstorming web like I've done here. Once you see all that you've accomplished there's no way you can doubt yourself! (See my attached pic. This is a web I did a while back when I was training for a marathon.)

According to, moxie is the ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage. It goes on further to say that the term was used as far back as 1876 as the name of a patent medicine advertised to "build up your nerve."

Too bad there's not bottled "marathon moxie" that you can gulp down just before a workout or race. Man, whoever invents that will become a millionaire! Until that day, marathon moxie does not come from a bottle, it comes from within you.

Having a marathon mantra is also a great way to remind you of your marathon moxie during the race. When the going gets tough later in the race, having a mantra to repeat to yourself can really make a difference. I've done this during many a race and it really works! I'm not sure if it distracts you from the pain or if it actually causes a physical reaction that overrides the fatiguing of your muscles. Really doesn't matter as long as it works.

So, be thinking of what kind of mantra may work for you. Here's a few ideas.
• Trust. Believe. Conquer!
• Can't Stop! Won't Stop!—Janel
• No regrets!
• If you don't, you rust!
• I'm a running machine, not going down without a fight!
• The pain of discipline or the pain of regret.
• Relentless forward motion
• Make Mom proud!
• Run like you're being chased!
• This too shall pass.
• Perpetual forward motion
• Not today, I will not be broken.
• Not if. When.
• I will keep on.
• Define yourself!
• Not everybody can do this!
• When the going gets tough, the tough get going. So get going!
• With God all things are possible, so you CAN do this!
• I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.
• Do this today and you can eat your weight in chocolate tonight!
• Of course it's hard, if it was easy everyone would do it.
• I hate you Thad. I hate you Thad.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Celebrate the Small Gains

Sometimes we get so caught up in the Big Picture that we forget to celebrate the small gains. It's the small weekly gains in your training that are the building blocks to that big picture. Celebrate the day you get up that big hill and you realize you're not winded. Celebrate the day you inch down a little more in your tempo run training pace range. Celebrate the day you make it to your tempo pace range. Celebrate the day you go past the longest distance you've run in your training plan. Celebrate the day you wake up and you're not sore. Celebrate the day you add a weekly core workout to your weekly running routine. Learning to celebrate the small gains along the way helps you realize the true progress you're making.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Revel Rockies Giveaway

Want to run the Rockies? You're in luck here's your chance to win a free entry to the Revel Rockies
Marathon taking place August 17, 2014.

The Revel Rockies Marathon is incredibly fast and remarkably beautiful road race takes runners from the forests and canyons of the Rocky Mountains to the foothills of Denver. Featuring a perfectly smooth downhill slope and spectacular scenery, this race will be sure to help you set your PR and finally hit that Boston Qualifying time. REVEL in speed. REVEL in beauty. REVEL in the Rockies.

Act quick! Contest closes Friday and the winner will be announced this Saturday! To enter, simply complete form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congrats to Winner Michele Oats!

Avoiding the Woe-Is-Me Vortex

Interesting observation....last night when I was around mile 8 in a 13-mile run, I really began to fatigue. I was
feeling every foot landing as if my feet were cement blocks. So, I began to coach myself telling myself what I tell my runners... to look up and out, not down. Engage your core. Shoulders back. Work the lean.

While looking up, I noticed some thick fancy concrete posts with wrought iron fence in between the posts that line the front of a swanky neighborhood on the route I was running.  I was curious. How many posts were there? Funny what you think of when delirium kicks in. I started counting the posts as I passed. (There are a lot of them.) Before this point, my body was giving into the fatigue slowing me to a 9:20 pace. Funny thing happened however, after counting the last concrete post, I glanced at my GPS. My pace had dropped to 8:17 and didn't even really realize it. I had shifted my focus from my concrete feet to the concrete posts.

Take away from this for me is that sometimes when we fatigue during  a run, the "woe is me" factor may be slowing us down more than the actual fatigue. My head had bought into the fatigue hook, line, and sinker. Yes, I was fatigued. I was needing hydration. But I wasn't as bad as my head was telling me. Mile 9 averaged out 14 seconds faster per mile than miles 7 and 8.

So, use those external distractions to avoid being sucked into the "woe is me" vortex. Look around, take in your surroundings. Better yet, run with a buddy. Conversation is one of he best distractions. Or if you're hard up for a distraction...count concrete posts. Worked for me!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Pick the Best Bar for the Length of Your Run

In a rush before a run? Need to eat, but don't have time to make something? Creating your own snacks is always best because you know exactly what's going into your body, but sometimes convenience trumps best practice. Best to get in some prepackaged nutrition to support your run than no nutrition at all. But which prepackaged foods are best for your different types of runs?

Below are some suggestions for prepackaged foods such as energy and protein bars wafers, waffles, and crackers. The foods are sorted by caloric needs based on the length of your run. These are not the only options for each category, but it's a good start. Always read the nutrition label to see if the calorie count of the chosen food supports the caloric needs of the run.

30-TO 60-MINUTE RUN--You need 150-200 calories

  • Balance Bar (Original): Chocolate Raspberry-180 cals
  • Balance Bar Dark: Chocolate Caramel Macchiato or Chocolate Crunch-180 cals
  • Kind Energy Bar: 180 cals
  • Fiber One Protein Bars: Trail Mix-130 cals; Oats & Chocolate or Oats & Peanut Butter-140 cals 
  • Honey Stinger Waffle: Ginger Snaps, Vanilla, Chocolate-160 cals
  • Honey Stinger Protein Bar: Peanut Butter-190 cals
  • Honey Stinger Energy Bar: Berry Banana Buzz-180 cals; Peanut Butter’n Honey-190 cals
  • Kashi Chewy Granola Bar: Chocolate Almond & Sea Salt-140 cals
  • Lance: Toasty Peanut Butter Crackers-180 cals; Toast Chee Reduced Fat Peanut Butter Crackers- 190 cals
  • Lara Bar: Blueberry, Carrot Cake, Apple Pie-190 cals
  • Luna  Bar: Carrot Cake, Blueberry Bliss, or Nuts Over Chocolate-180 cals
  • Luna Protein Bar: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough-170 cals
  • Nature Valley Peanut Butter Energy Bar-190 cals
  • Nutri Grain Bars: Blueberry, Raspberry, Apple Cinnamon-120 cals
  • Odwalla Bars for Kids: Strawberry Score or Banana Dunk-130 cals; Chocolate Chip Kick-140 cals
  • PowerBar: Energy Wafer Berry Yogurt-170 cals; Chocolate Peanut Butter-180 cals
  • PROBAR Fruition: Cran-Raspberry-160 cals
  • Special K Protein Meal Bars: Strawberry and Cranberry Walnut-170 cals; Chocolate Peanut Butter, Honey Almond-180 cals
  • Special K Nourish Bar: Lemon Twist-160 cals

60-TO 90-MINUTE RUN--You need 200-250 calories

  • Balance Bar Gold: Lemon Meringue Crunch, Chocolate Peanut Butter, or Chocolate Mint Cookie Crunch-200 cals
  • Balance Bar (Original): Double Chocolate Brownie, Honey Peanut, and Yogurt Honey Peanut-200 cals
  • Cliff Energy Bar: Chocolate Brownie, Apricot, Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Chip-240 cals
  • Lance: Whole Grain Peanut Butter Crackers or Toast Chee Reduced Fat Peanut Butter Crackers-210 cals
  • Lara Bar: Cherry Pie, Cherry Fruit & Nut, or Cappuccino-200 cals; Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough-210 cals; Banana Bread or Peanut Butter-230 cals; Chocolate Coconut Chew-240 cals
  • Odwalla: Chocolate Almond, Blueberry Swirl, or Orange Cranberry-200 cals; Chocolate Chip Peanut-230 cals
  • Power Bar Performance Energy Bar: Fruit & Nut-220 cals, Chocolate or Vanilla Crips-240 cals
  • Snickers Marathon Energy Bar: Chewy Chocolate Peanut-210 cals

90-MINUTE TO 2-HOUR RUN--You need 250-300 calories

  • Bear Naked Energy Bar: Chocolate Chip Peanut or Almond Cranberry-250 cals
  • Cliff Bar: Black Cherry Almond-250 cals; Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Crunch or White Chocolate Macadamia Nut-260 cals
  • Cliff Bar Builders: Chocolate-270 cals
  • Power Bar Harvest Energy: Double Chocolate Crisp-250 cals
  • Snickers Marathon Protein Bar: Caramel Nut Rush-290 cals

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Three Keys to Health and Fitness: Moderation Accountability Consistency

This morning I posted on Facebook that I've lost 11lbs and getting closer to my racing weight goal. This sparked an awesome conversation amongst my FB friends about weight loss and racing. I have a goal to lose about 15lbs in prep for my Philly Marathon in November.

With owning my own business and having just written my first book, I began devoting less and less time to my own fitness needs. As a results I added a few pounds. More than that, my fitness level just began to wane. I could tell it in my runs. So, about a month ago, I started being more accountable with my diet. No drastic changes. No weird diets. Just being more cognisant of what I was eating, how much, and when. And I started making sure I was getting in daily "me fitness" be it running or resistance training.

One month later, I've lost 11lbs and my body composition is changing. I can already feel it in my runs. I gave my son Duncan a good run on the latter half of last Saturday's long run hitting a 6:10 pace up a rather hilly portion of the greenway. Not too shabby when about a month ago an 8:30 pace felt labored.

My point in sharing is that, you don't have to make drastic changes to make changes. Moderation. Accountability. Consistency. These are the three keys to good health and fitness. Dropping 5-10lbs can make a big difference in how you feel on your runs as well as make a difference in your overall pace. I'm not saying you have to lose weight to run well. Far from it. But, if you've gained a little and you've let your fitness level slide then getting back on the fitness and good nutrition wagon will make the differences you want to see happen and happen more quickly.

For more reading on racing weight, author and athlete, Matt Fitzgerald, has an awesome book titled, Racing Weight that delves more in depth into finding your racing weight. He also has a companion book just out titled, Racing Weight Cookbook with lots of great recipes.

Are you working on your fitness and weight loss? I'd love to share your before and after pictures and the story of your journey. Send your pictures and stories to and I'll feature them on the blog.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Where did the .2 Come from?

Did you know that the distance of the first modern Olympic Marathon in 1896 was 24.8 miles. So why is it 26.2 today?

King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria
You've probably heard the legend of Pheidippides, the Greek who ran from the city of Marathon to Athens to deliver a message that they had defeated the Persian Army. You also probably know that upon reaching Athens, he staggered and exclaimed, "Rejoice! We Conquer!" and then collapsed and died. Nice story, huh? Really motivates you to run a marathon. LOL!

But I digress....why is the distance for a full marathon today 26.2 instead of 24.8 miles (the real distance from Marathon to Athens)? Well, in 1908 when the Olympic games were being held in England, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria requested that the race begin at Windsor Castle. Why? They wanted to Royal family to be able to see the start. I guess when you're King, you can pretty much get what you want.

1908 London Olympic Marathon Route
The distance from the castle to the Olympic Stadium in London was 26 miles. So what about the .2? The distance was extended 385 yards (.2 miles) around the track at the stadium so the runners would cross the finish line directly in front of  Edward and Alexandria. Pretty swanky huh?

The marathon distance in other competitions kept varying in length until 1921 when it was decided that the official distance would be 26 miles and 385 yards, or 26.2 miles.

So, you can thank Edward and Alexandria for the extra 1.4 miles.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Clean Kicks!

Do your running shoes need a room of their own after a few summer runs? Mine do. They don't stink like teenage locker room stench, from rampant athlete's feet, but they do get a sweaty smell that can be quite overwhelming, especially after having been left by "accident" in the car overnight.  So, what's a runner to do?


I know, every time I tell people I wash my running shoes I get all kinds of flack about how I'm ruining them. But, I don't really see how my run yesterday which left me squishing in my shoes from the sweat pouring down my body and into my shoes is any different from me rinsing them with clean salt free water. Or how is it any different from the tempo run I had last week when 3/4 of the run was during a monsoon during which I had to run through a foot of water because a street drain was clogged.

Not really that much difference. Water is water.
Soak in cold water with mild detergent for 10 minutes,
then rinse thoroughly.

However, I am careful what I wash them in. I prefer something like Woolite. I also like detergents such as WIN and Sports Wash that are designed to get sports related odors out of clothing. Sometimes, I'll put the shoes in the washer on the delicate cycle using only cold water, but normally I just fill a sink with cold water, put in some detergent, pull out the insoles and laces and soak everything for about 10 minutes. After soaking, gently rub the fabric to loosen any dirt still hanging on, then rinse them thoroughly with cold water and squeeze out any excess water. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the padded areas in the back of the shoe near the heel area. Detergent will often collect in the padding. Rinse until you no longer see any bubbles emerging from the padding.
Use a Magic Eraser cleaning sponge to
clean the soles.

If your shoes have white soles, use a Magic Eraser cleaning sponge to get rid of those lingering stains and smudges.
Hang to dry.

Next, clip the tongue of each shoe to a hanger, loop the laces around the hook and hang them to dry. Prop the insoles by an air vent to dry.


Next day, I have clean, fresh smelling kicks for my next run.

Greensboro's Greenways: Proud and Saddened

RunnerDude's Fitness is so lucky and proud to be situated along one of the newest stretches of the Yadkin
Heading north into the Yadkin & Atlantic Greenway
tunnel underneath Cone Blvd.
and Atlantic Greenway in Greensboro, NC. The greenway is a part of an old railway (The Yadkin & Atlantic) that used to bring granite from Stokesdale, NC, into Greensboro. There's quite an impressive tunnel that was built underneath W. Cone runners, walkers, and cyclist could avoid having to cross 4-lane Cone Blvd. Granite-like blocks lead into the tunnel tying in the railway's history. Inside is a wonderful mural painted on both walls running the length of the tunnel as well as the ceiling that incorporates the native vegetation and animals as well as local landmarks.
Me running inside the Cone Blvd. Tunnel past the awesome
mural painted inside the tunnel.
RunnerDude's Fitness has a kinship and sense of ownership towards this 1.5-mile strip of greenway that begins at the Pisgah Church Rd./Battleground Rd intersection (at the CVS) and running south parallel with Battleground. You may not have realized it's there, but it's behind all the shops on Battleground such as Papa John's, Stamey's, Rice Toyota, Taco Bell, Texas Roadhouse, and Office Depot. It emerges and ends in front of the Golden Corral at the Target shopping center on Lawndale. Eventually this stretch will connect with the downtown greenways. On the northern end of this strip, the greenway crosses over Pisgah Church Rd, and dips behind the Methodist church picking up with an older stretch of the greenway that runs all the way out past Bur-Mill Park, currently ending at a tunnel that's under construction at Hwy 220. From RunnerDude's Fitness, heading north you can easily get in a 13-mile out-n-back run. It's awesome!
Trash collected along greenway on June 22.

Because of this kinship and sense of responsibility, RunnerDude's Fitness is in the process of adopting this stretch of greenway. We've had two clean-ups which is apart of the official process. The last clean-up was on June 22. We had an awesome group show up and we picked up quite a bit of trash.

Since that clean-up I've been very aware of the trash along the greenway. Kind of like when you buy that new car that you think is so special and unique and then after you buy it, you begin seeing it everywhere. Well, now every time I run the greenway, I'm very aware of the amount of litter scattered about. The past week or two, I've noticed quite a bit of trash in the tunnel. So, today I slipped on some rubber gloves and grabbed a 30-gal trash bag and headed out to clean up the tunnel. Trash trailing out of the tunnel along the greenway kept me moving north picking up litter. An hour-and-a-half later, I returned to the studio with that 30-gal bag completely full. I was dismayed and saddened. How could that much trash have been left since June 22. It's not even been one month. Also, the group clean-up on June 22 (see picture above) covered the entire 1.5-mile stretch of greenway from Golden Corral to CVS. My clean-up today covered only the mile from RunnerDude's Fitness to CVS.

What did I find? Just about everything. I found the expected beer cans, beer bottles, and cigarette butts,
Trash I collected today.
candy wrappers, fast food containers and Styrofoam cups. Some of the debris you could tell was from some of the area homeless population, but I was very disheartened to find Gatorade bottles and GU wrappers. I also, picked up nicely tied up bags of doggie poop (these had been there for days). I'm not thinking that the homeless population bags up their critters' poop.

Reaching  CVS, my 30-gal bag full, I turned and headed back to the studio. On the 1-mile walk back, I collected a few pieces of trash I missed. Then something white caught my eye about 200ft down the greenway. As I got closer, I realized it was a CVS bag of trash that someone had discarded in the middle of the greenway within the few minutes since I had just been in the area. My heart felt heavy as I picked up the bag and added it to the rest of the trash I had collected.

Greensboro is so lucky to have more than 90 miles of greenways and trails networked together for everyone to enjoy. Let's encourage everyone to play a part in taking care of this treasure.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Eye Protection Important for Runners

We often hear about the importance of wearing sun screen to protect your skin from the dangers of sun
exposure. I should know. I had the scary experience of having melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer. Luckily it was discovered in time and I had it successfully removed. The 4-inch scare down the middle of my back is a constant reminder of the importance of protection from the sun.

Your eyes are equally susceptible to the dangers of too much sun exposure. The Mayo Clinic says that UV radiation from the sun can damage not only the skin of your eyelid but also the cornea, lens and other parts of the eye. UV exposure also contributes to the development of certain types of cataracts and possibly macular degeneration.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that when choosing sunglasses, look for UV-protection details on the product labels. Look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UA and UVB rays. Don't purchase sunglasses that neglect to offer details about their UV protection. The color and degree of darkness sunglasses provide have nothing to do with the sunglasses' ability to block UV rays. Wraparound sunglasses or close-fitting sunglasses with wide lenses that protect your eyes from all angles are best.

Your local eye care professionals are a great source of information in helping you select the best pair of sunglasses even if you don't need prescription sunglasses. I do wear prescription eyeglasses and I've had a hard time finding sunglasses that wrap around and fit close to my head for running.

I had trouble that is until Eye Care Associates contacted me about testing out a pair of sunglasses. They scheduled me for an exam at the Eye Care Associates location at Friendly Center in Greensboro, NC.  Dr. Laura Painter did an excellent job in giving my eyes a thorough exam. She actually discovered the beginnings of a cataract in one eye. All the more reason to get protective eye wear for my many runs.

After the eye exam, the awesome staff helped me find the best pair of sunglasses for my running. I decided
on a pair of Oakley sunglasses. I've always had sunglasses with dark grey lenses, but I was introduced to some amber lenses that I ended up liking a great deal. I run early in the morning and later in the afternoon. The amber lenses help me still be able to see when the sun hasn't fully risen or when it's begun to set. I've had several runs during the fall for which I needed sunglasses to block the setting sun, but before I could complete the run the sun would dip below the horizon making my footing a scary guessing game the last mile or two. The amber lenses makes that much easier while still providing the protection when needed earlier in the run.

I've been running with the Oakleys for over a month now and they're awesome! The stay snugly on my face with no slipping. They provide great coverage and I'm loving the amber lenses.

June 27th is National Sunglasses Day! In honor of National Sunglasses day and to help promote healthy eyes among the running community, Eye Care Associates is providing a $200 gift certificate that can be used for a routine eye exam, retinal photos, non-prescription sunglasses, prescription eye wear, and/or contact lens materials at any Eye Care Associates office.

To participate, you'll need to be within driving distance of one of the many Eye Care Associate locations here in North Carolina. Click here for locations. Enter below for a chance to win the gift certificate. You'll have until end of Day July 1st to enter. The winner will be announced on the blog on July 2nd.

A huge thanks to Eye Care Associates!!

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Running Inspired Tattoos: A Way for Many to Express Their Running Accomplishments

According to the Smithsonian, the oldest tattoo on a human belongs to the Iceman discovered in the Italian-Austrian border back in 1991. He was carbon-dated at around 5,200 years old. Now that's a lasting tattoo. Iceman was sporting tattooed dots and small crosses on his lower spine and right knee and ankle joints. Because these locations correspond to areas of strain-induced degeneration (their words not mine), suggested they many have been applied to alleviate joint pain, so basically they were probably therapeutic.

Jump ahead about 1000 years and we find Egyptian women sporting tattoos. All through history tattoos have been a part of many cultures. Some cultures used tattoos as a sign of nobility and others used them as a sign of ownership of a religious sect or to another owner.

Some cultures such as those of Polynesia use elaborate tattoos that have been developed over millennia. These feature geometric designs sometimes covering the entire body. Captain James Cook encountered such cultures on his 1769 British expedition to Tahiti. The islanders referred to the designs as "tatatau" or Tattau" which meant hit or strike....hence the birth of the modern term tattoo.

Today, tattoos are still important parts of many cultures around the world. They've also become popular ways for many modern-day individuals to express themselves. From inspirational phrases to illustrations of family members, tattoos usually carry great meaning for the person sporting the tattoo.

This is no less true in the running community. From the Ironman logo to the iconic 26.2 image, you'll find many runners with running related artwork on their torso, calf, thigh or arm.

Like anything, some people hate tattoos, some love them and sport many, while others are indifferent to them.

I've been pondering a running related tattoo for several years. I think it's time for RunnerDude to take the plunge. The RunnerDude motto is "Trust. Believe. Conquer!" I'd love to somehow incorporate the motto into a tattoo. I'm thinking the location would be the back/center of a calf. Nothing too big, but big enough to be seen and possibly motivate.

I'd love to see your ideas for a "Trust. Believe. Conquer!" RunnerDude tattoo. Sketch your ideas and email a picture to by July 4th. I'll post all that are sent and I'll let the readers vote on their favorite.

I'm excited to see your ideas!

New Runner's Cheat Sheet

 If you were like me when I first started running, you probably felt a little lost from all the running terms andwere hesitant to ask the more experienced runners you knew what the heck they all meant. Took me a while to get up to speed, but I finally became running-term literate. Hears a little cheat sheet to help you out if you need it.

• Easy Run—a slow run done at a conversational pace
• Fartlek—a Swedish word for speedplay; workout includes faster running mixed with slower running; can be done in any setting—track, trail, or road
• Repeats or Intervals—type of workout where a set distance is run repeatedly with a recovery jog between; for example 6 times 400 meters with 100 meters recovery jog; typically done on a track
• Cadence—the number of footstrikes made within a minute
• Foot strike—how your foot hits the ground (heelstrike, mid foot or flat foot, and fore foot)
• Speed Work—short, fast intervals with recovery jogs between; increases your leg turnover and maximizes your stamina and race confidence
• Tempo Runs—workouts where you run at a steady pace that is around 70% to 80% of your max aerobic capacity; near race pace, but not race pace
• Hills—workouts where a runner runs up a hill fast and jogs down then runs up again; helps develop leg power and aerobic capacity
• Long Runs—longest run of the week; usually on the weekend
• Recovery Runs—slow to moderate running to recover from hard workouts or races and/or maintain aerobic conditioning
• Cross-Training—low- or no-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, and using the elliptical at the gym that increase conditioning
• Pace—the measure of the speed of running; usually quantified as minutes taken to run a mile; for example a runner may run a 7:00 per mile pace for a marathon
• PR—Personal Record or Personal Best; fastest time a runner has run for a given distance
• Junk Miles—runs used to reach a weekly or monthly mileage total rather than for a specific benefit
• 5K—race with a distance of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles)
• 10K—race with a distance of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles)
• 15K—race with a distance of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles)
• 20K—race with a distance of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles)
• Marathon—race with a distance of 26.2 miles
• Half-Marathon—race with a distance of 13.1 miles
• Bandit—a person who runs a race without paying the registration fee
• BQ—a Boston qualifying time or a race that's a Boston qualifier
• Carb-loading—eating a high-carbohydrate diet (60%-70% of the total calories) at least three days prior to a race to fill the glycogen stores
• Chip time—finish time that's recorded by a computer chip typically worn on the shoe or around the ankle. Tracks each runner's time from when they cross the start line and finish line.
• Kicks—running shoes
• CR—course record
• DNF—did not finish
• DNS—did not start
• DOMS—delayed onset muscle soreness
• Elite runner—a person who has reached the highest level in his sport
• Gun time—finish time that begins when the start gun sounds until the runner crosses the finish line
• GU—a brand of sports gel that's a concentrated sources of carbohydrate (fuel) and electrolytes
• "Hitting the wall" or bonk—a time during a race when your glycogen stores become depleted and fatigue overwhelms you. Typically happens around mile 20 in a marathon.
• Master—a runner 40-years-old or older is classified as a Master in the US. In other countries the term used is Veteran
• Negative splits—running the second half of a race faster than the first
• NR—national record
• Pace—the measure of speed of running; usually thought of as the number of minutes it takes to run a mile during a race
• PB—personal best
• PR—personal record
• Road Race—running contest that takes place over streets
• Singlet—a tank top for running
• Snot Rocket—the act of closing off one nostril while blowing forcefully out the other nostril to clear it of...well...snot, while on the run
• Streaker—a person who runs at least one mile on consecutive days never having a day with no running
• Taper—reducing your mileage several days to a few weeks prior to a race
• Ultra—any race longer than a traditional marathon which is 26.2 miles
• USA Track & Field—the national governing body for running in the US
• WR—world record

Monday, June 9, 2014

TIMEX Ironman Easy Trainer GPS Giveaway!

RunnerDude has partnered with TIMEX to bring you this awesome giveaway! Follow the directions below to enter for a chance to win one of two TIMEX Ironman Easy Trainer GPS watches. One male and one female winner will be selected at random by Rafflecopter. The winners will be announced on the blog on June 17th, 2014. Good Luck!

After registering, be sure to check out my interviews with TIMEX Multisport Team Members Susanne Davis and Meredith Dolhare.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

RunnerDude Chats With TIMEX Multisport Team Member Susanne Davis

Recently I had the privilege to interview Timex Multisport Team member Susanne Davis. Susanne is a decorated athlete who has set course records and won many Sprint Distance Triathlons.  As a Professional Triathlete in the 1990s, she travelled the world racing ITU World Cups and competed in the 2000 US Olympic Triathlon Trials.  In October 2010, in only her second Ironman, she turned Kona upside down by breaking the existing 35-39 Age Group World Record and placing 2nd Overall Amateur at the 2010 Ironman World Championships.  She was the 1st American Woman and placed 23rd among the Pro Field!  This year in 2013 Susanne put in one of the greatest races of her life.  She is now an American record holder being the fastest  Amateur over 40 in the 35 year history of the Ironman World Championship going 9:41:40.   She is also the reigning 2013 USA Triathlon Masters Champion at Olympic Distance.  She finished the year as the number one ranked Master’s triathlete in the country. In 2011 during her first year on Timex Multisport Team, one of the country’s most successful triathlon teams, Susanne was voted Rookie of the Year. 

Read on to learn more about this amazing athlete....

RD: Tell us a little about your youth. Were you athletic as a child? Did you grow up in an athletic family?
Susanne: I grew up running track and cross country in High school and College at University of Wisconsin LaCrosse.  I am the youngest of 6 kids and my sister Beth who is closest in age to me (5yrs older) was my biggest influence.  I went to her meets and loved the camaraderie and team spirit.  Her coaches would always come up to me and say, "I hope you are a runner because you've got those long, lean, fast "Martineau legs"." That invitation and wanting to be as good or (actually better) than my sister was my motivation.  I always was competing to keep up with her growing up. Water skiing, down hill skiing, mountain biking, running, swimming faster across the lake each year camping etc. It makes me laugh and wonder if my daughter who is 5 years younger than my son if this will play out in her life.  Her personality is a lot like me.

RD: When did you first realize that the triathlon and more specifically the Ironman was your niche?
Susanne: I did my first triathlon in summer of 1993.  I was almost last out of the water, road past half the field on a borrowed bicycle and ran very strong passing tons of people to the finish!  I had no idea but at the awards ceremony they announced me as the winner and gave me a check for $100.00!  I was shocked and elated. This is where my dream started and ironically the motto of Ironman, "Anything is Possible".   I thought, wow I can make money at this?  I won this triathlon on my first attempt!  I think I could be one of the best anywhere! Being 22 years old and a bit naive has it's advantages.   Here I was from a town of 12,000 people where I beat 150 of them.  It didn't dawn on me that the world has 7 billion people.  I read in Triathlete Magazine that the best athletes trained in Boulder so I moved there for the summer to become one of the best triathletes!  I took 30 minutes off my next triathlon and in my senior year of college I won almost every NCAA cross country race.  It was from the strength and speed I earned simply from doing triathlon for 3 months. I was convinced triathlon was something I should pursue.  I became the top Triathlete in the state of Arizona and was invited to live and train at the Olympic Training Center as a resident athlete training for the first Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia in 2000.  My swim wasn't strong enough to make it out of the water in the lead pack and with drafting on the bike it made it impossible for me to catch up and finish 1st or 2nd which is how you qualified.  I was burned out and took a 3 year break from triathlon.  I went back to running and balanced it around a sales rep job.

RD: How does being a triathlon competitor in the 90s compare to being an Ironman competitor in 2014?Susanne: Ironman didn't become my niche until I had children.  I gained 50 lbs with my first son and worked as a Sales Rep traveling on the West coast for 60 hours a week.  I cried everyday I had to leave my son to drive to LA.  I quit and a neighbor/CEO asked me to coach him for an Ironman.  He didn't know how to swim, never biked and hadn't run since college.  I trained with him and lost the weight.  I decided to try a half ironman, qualified for Kona and placed 11th amateur overall and 3rd in my AG 30-34.  Not until 5 years later after having my second child did I realize Ironman would be my niche!  I grew my coaching business and trained with many of my clients.  It was the perfect environment to light the Kona fire in me again.  I was 3rd overall with the pros in my qualifying race at Honu!   At Kona, I was the top American amateur in the World Championships and 2nd Overall Amateur.  I had beat my existing age group World Record and taken 30 minutes off my previous Kona time finishing in 9:51!  What!?  It was then in 2010, 17 years after my first triathlon that I thought I found my niche.  God gave me a taste of success and I believed I could get faster and become the best in the World.  

RD: What was your toughest race? What made it so tough?
Susanne: Last year at the Ironman World Championships. 
I was on fire from the start swimming 90 seconds faster than my previous years, biked 11 minutes faster and was stoked going into the run which is my strongest leg of a triathlon.  But, at mile 2 my pace slowed from 7:15 to almost 9 minutes as my hips and glutes were locked and not firing.  No uphill to blame. I thought OK, my body will be OK it just needs another mile to stretch out from the ride, but every step hurt. My husband screamed, "Banana (Susanna banana) nick name) you are going to CRUSH the world record! For the past two years I've run 3:17 or 3:18 off the bike.  I yelled back, " I'll be lucky if I break 3:45 today". It's going to take all I've got.  I chanted the names of people I loved and who supported me and sang songs of faith, "He can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save... Please lord move this mountain of pain and slow running.  Then at the Energy lab, "Eye of the Tiger came blasting through the only speaker on course. Rising up back on my feet.  I pumped my fist in the air, yelled out let's get this party started and boom - I took the pace back down to 7:30 pace!  

RD: What's a typical training week look like for you?
Susanne: Monday my alarm goes off at 4:20am.  I make a double shot cappuccino and teach YMCA 90 minute spin class at 5:15am.  I run home, make breakfast, pack lunches and at 8am I drop my kids at school.  I go for a run and start coaching athletes or write programs on Training Peaks all day until I pick my kids up from school at 2:20pm.  I make a snack, do homework, make dinner, read with them, go to bed and start again! 
  • Tuesday I have an off day and coach people and catch up on daily house or mom duties.  I also teach math as a volunteer in my daughters class.
  • Wednesday is my mid-week long ride with a run after it.
  • Thurs is speed day. I do a speed set running in the morning, coach personal sessions and swim Masters over lunch. 
  • Friday I teach another Spin class at 5:15am, then run or swim.
  • Sat: My husband watches the kids and I ride 4 hours and run off the bike.
  • Sunday: is a family day, church and off or a long run.  

I'll squeeze in extra swims throughout the week to make sure I'm swimming 4 times just before Ironman.  
All of my mileage and paces vary throughout the year based on what phase of periodization I'm in.
RD: What tools do you use to help elevate your training.
Susanne: I train with a Timex Run Trainer 2.0 Heart Rate and GPS monitor.  I'm a big believer that numbers are important and provide needed guidance in training.  Every workout is written with a specific goal of heart rate and pace.  I maximize my time, effort and benefit from the training at the highest level.  I also use rpms and watts as well to control anaerobic efforts at race pace when teaching spin class as a turbo session weekly.  All these numbers can be pretty important on race day.

RD: You're also an endurance coach. How does the time commitment of training others affect your Ironman training?
Susanne: Certainly the time could get away from you easily and some weeks it's very challenging to balance. I am very good at organizing a calendar.  Many of my clients who I coach are with me for years and they understand the complexity of balancing time with other commitments. I coordinate some long Sat rides with clients who are around the same strength.  It's a benefit to us both.  I do group sessions the last two months leading up to a big Ironman race.  I also limit how many clients I personally work one on one with so I can keep balanced.  I've hired a few amazing assistant coaches who know my philosophy in coaching and are experts as well in different areas of training.  I love my daughter's saying, "mom I'm not an octopus".  I have to remind myself of that when I'm over commit myself.   

RD: Have you ever pictured yourself doing something different with your life?
Susanne: No! I love my life!  I love my family, friends, where I live, my job as a coach and the Timex Team. I feel so blessed to be where I am.

RD: What do you enjoy most about coaching others?
Susanne: I love to share my knowledge and see the light click, the confidence build and the results improve. The appreciation and accolades I get from my clients goes full circle.  I inspire them and push them to be better and they do that for me.  Qualifying for Boston the Kona Ironman or getting on a podium is a life long journey for some.  Watching them get there and knowing I'm part of the reason is seriously rewarding.  They cheer for me as aggressively as I cheer for them.  Many have become lifetime friends.
RD: Looking back over your athletic career, what would you do differently? 
Susanne: I would have raced Ironman much sooner.  I went 9:51 at the age of 39 in my first real effort to perform there.  If I think back, a young Kate Major (a good friend) had a really successful career with several 3rd place finishes.  She set an amateur world record just 2 minutes faster than my effort back when she was 23.  I've looked at that and thought where could I have been if I started this Ironman journey in my early 20's.  Unfortunately, I thought it was a crazy distance that I wouldn't even be able to handle.  I think I could have been a fairly successful Pro at this distance over the Olympic ITU format.

RD: How did it feel becoming the fastest amateur over 40 in the 35 year history of the Ironman Word Championship with your 9:41:40 finish time?
Susanne: There were so many emotions.  Surprise after my run start.  Incredible satisfaction from the fight of the race.  A thrill that I finally made the top of the podium.  Relief as I'd chased this for the last 4 years.  But mostly it was the sweetest ending to an extremely difficult year for my family. Triathlon has been a great stress reliever in my life through the years. I'm thankful I had it last year.

RD: Are you hoping you hold on to your reign of the USA Triathlon Masters Champion title at the Olympic Distance for a while or would you be okay with someone edging you out?
Susanne: Most races on my calendar I go into with the intention of winning.  There are a few that are tune up races where I know I'm not in top form.  This race is in Milwaukee and I'm surrounded by family so I certainly have a star next to it on my calendar.  It's an "A" race for me and I will prepare myself (as I'm my own coach) to win again.  I'm OK if someone edges me out on the day.  I can control my preparation, but I can't control the day.  You never know what is going to happen to your body or equipment on any given day.  I do know that I will be fast and ready and I have a program that got me there last year.

RD: How does competing at the masters level differ than when you were younger? What do you know now as a masters competitor that you wish you had known when competing in your 20s? 
Susanne: My confidence as a master's is what I didn't have racing as a Pro in my 20's.  Then, you were only as good as your last race.  If you didn't win money you didn't get to travel to the next competition and I was afraid I'd lose my sponsorships and disappoint many people in my life.  Now I'm a mom, wife and coach.  I also happen to be the top Master's triathlete in the world.  Figuring out how to find this balance is so rewarding and if I don't win, I still feel the other rewarding parts of my life.  My family still loves me if I'm 1st or 15th.  It's always a win-win now.

RD: What do you think about younger and younger kids (teens and pre-teens) competing in ultra-type endurance competitions? 
Susanne: Great question.  I've coached elite Jr. High and High School runners and I've seen the difference between coaching philosophies and the other athletes on their team.  The old adage of everything needs to be done in moderation couldn't be more true at a younger age.  If a parent has a teenager with the passion to run a half marathon or a marathon then they should investigate coaches.  Find a coach who can build them up gradually and help them cross train or do the right core strength to avoid over use injury and burn out.  I've seen both sides of the coin.  Athletes who were burned out, injured and didn't run again after high school. I've also seen my clients go on to have full ride scholarships and shine in college.  

A child's desire to be great is something you can't teach but comes from within.  It's how you stoke that fire that makes the difference.

RD: What are your future aspirations? 
Susanne: I feel like I've achieved everything I've wanted to achieve in the sport.  That's not to sound conceited but I am satisfied with what I've done.  The fire is still there and I will compete like I always have but do I have to be the top amateur or top 20 pro or set a world record in the 45 age group?  For now, no. But ask me in a year.

My focus now that I've reached the top is to share my knowledge and passion with more people.  I will be growing my training business to help make a difference in more people's athletic life.  I will continuing being a role model for my kids, clients, people over 40 and moms who want to achieve something great for themselves.  Racing a marathon, a triathlon or cutting time off your next race is doable at any age.  If you need help, find a coach like me. Some people think they can't achieve their dream or are overwhelmed.  I say dream, plan and believe anything is possible. I know, because I just proved it. 

Be sure to checkout Susanne's website

TIMEX Giveaway!
Stay Tuned! In honor of Susanne's great accomplishments, RunnerDude has partnered with TIMEX to giveaway two TIMEX Ironman Easy Trainer GPS watches! Look for more on the giveaway and how to enter for a chance to win one of two GPS watches this Monday!